Army controls streets in Beirut after political clash

Other News Materials 17 February 2008 02:32 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The Lebanese army imposed tighter control of the city late Staurday following clashes between followers of the Shiite Amal movement and their rivals, the Muslim Sunni followers of Saad Hariri, the leader of the anti-Syrian majority.

The army set up checkpoints and was working on removing all armed men from the streets and containing the clash.

"We are controlling the streets now and calm is eventually returning," an army officer on the scene said.

The clash erupted after a fist fight between an Amal member and a follower of Hariri's Future movement in Noueri, an area in west Beirut.

The fight turned into clashes with machine guns, prompting the army to intervene and arrest members from both groups.

Red Cross volunteers were treating the wounded in the streets and said at least three people were seriously wounded.

Some local television reports said several shops were set ablaze in a Sunni Muslim neighborhood in west Beirut.

Similar clashes between the two groups have erupted in Beirut over the past two days.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah denied reports that four Molotov bombs had been tossed near their office in the Ras al-Nabaa area of Beirut.

Tension was mounting in Lebanon amid a political deadlock over the election of a successor for former president Emil Lahoud, whose term in office expired November 23.

The division was getting deeper between the opposition, led by Hezbollah, and the anti-Syrian majority, and many fear it could lead to civil strife in the country.

The rival political camps have agreed to elect Army Chief General Michel Suleiman as a compromise president, but are still at odds on the formation of a new government.